DOT Pipeline Compliance News

July 2016 Issue

In This Issue

PIPES Act of 2016

[114TH CONGRESS S.2276 / H.R. 4937]

On June 22, 2016, President Obama signed into law the “Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety (PIPES) Act of 2016.” This bill reauthorizes PHMSA’s oil and gas pipeline programs through 2019 and includes new mandates aimed at strengthening PHMSA’s existing safety procedures and programs.

Pipeline Safety: The PIPES Act requires a report be submitted to Congress regarding the integrity management programs for gas and hazardous liquid pipeline facilities. The reports must include: an analysis of technical, operational, and economic feasibility regarding measures to enhance pipeline facility safety; an analysis of the pipeline facility features’ impact on safety; and a description of any challenges affecting Federal and State regulators in the oversight of pipeline facilities.

The PIPES Act authorizes several studies aimed at improving pipeline safety, including a study on “improving existing damage prevention programs through technological improvements in location, mapping, excavation, and communications practices” to reduce releases caused by excavation. It also requires a study for the feasibility of establishing a national integrated pipeline safety regulatory inspection database to facilitate collaboration between PHMSA and State pipeline regulators.

PHMSA will be required to conduct a post-inspection briefing within 30 days of an inspection, and provide written preliminary findings within 90 days of an inspection.

Hazardous Liquid operators will be required to send material safety data sheets to the Federal On-Scene Coordinator and appropriate State and local emergency responders within 6 hours of notification to the National Response Center. Hazardous Liquid spill response plans required by 49 CFR 194 will have to explicitly address ice (if appropriate).

The Great Lakes, coastal beaches, and marine coastal waters will be explicitly designated as unusually environmentally sensitive for the determination of High Consequence Areas.

Underground Gas Storage Facilities: The PIPES Act amends 49 U.S.C. Section 60101(a) to define “underground natural gas storage facility” as “a gas pipeline facility that stores natural gas in an underground facility, including—(A) a depleted hydrocarbon reservoir; (B) an aquifer reservoir; or (C) a solution-mined salt cavern reservoir.” The PIPES Act requires PHMSA to issue, within two years of passage, “minimum safety standards for underground natural gas storage facilities.” In addition, the PIPES Act allows states to adopt more stringent safety standards for intrastate facilities. In order to implement the safety standards, the PIPES Act imposes a “user fee” on entities operating underground storage facilities.

Corrosion & Leak Prevention: The PIPES Act will commission a study of materials and corrosion prevention in pipeline transportation. The study will analyze: the range of piping materials used to transport hazardous liquids and natural gas in the U.S. and other countries; the types of technologies used for corrosion prevention; common causes of corrosion; and the training provided to personnel responsible for identifying and preventing corrosion in pipelines, and for repairing such pipelines. The study will also analyze best practices or guidance aimed at preventing or recognizing corrosion, and analyze the costs and benefits associated with the use of such materials and technologies. The Act also authorizes a study on natural gas leak reporting and calls for a review of State policies relating to natural gas leaks.

Emergency Order Authority: The PIPES Act gives the Secretary the power to quickly issue emergency orders for the pipeline industry if “the Secretary determines that an unsafe condition or practice, or a combination of unsafe conditions and practices, constitutes or is causing an imminent hazard.” The emergency order may impose “emergency restrictions, prohibitions, and safety measures on owners and operators of gas or hazardous liquid pipeline facilities without prior notice or an opportunity for a hearing, but only to the extent necessary to abate the imminent hazard.”

For a copy of the Bill text and a Summary Fact Page, visit the PIPES Act of 2016 website.

RCP Underground Storage Services & Gas Storage Facility Procedures

Does your company have underground storage assets? Do you know what is included in the new PHMSA advisory bulletin and RPs 1170 & 1171?

RCP has extensive expertise in the underground storage recommended practices for both reservoirs and salt caverns which we would like to put to work for your company. We have developed integrity management programs and operating procedures for many storage facilities across the US. We can provide a wide variety of related services such as:

  • Assess current operations against new RP 1170/1171
  • Develop underground storage programs
  • Complete risk assessments
  • Develop risk mitigation plans

We are well-positioned to support your organization’s response to the recent PHMSA advisory bulletin as well as the California Emergency rule on underground gas storage. For more information, please contact Jessica Foley.

PHMSA Advisory Bulletin Concerning Corrosion Under Insulation (CUI)

[DOCKET NO. PHMSA-2016-0071]

The Department of Transportation/Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued an Advisory Bulletin (ADB–2016–04) to remind all owners and operators of hazardous liquid, carbon dioxide, and gas pipelines of the need to ensure that pipelines that are both buried and insulated have effective coating and corrosion-control systems to protect against cathodic protection (CP) shielding. Owners and operators were also reminded to conduct in-line inspections for all threats, and to ensure that in-line inspection findings are accurate and verified.

Corrosion under insulation (CUI) is recognized as an integrity threat that is difficult to address through conventional CP systems. This Advisory Bulletin references NACE International publication 10A392, 2006 Edition, “Effectiveness of Cathodic Protection on Thermally Insulated Underground Metallic Structures,” as a guide for external corrosion control of thermally-insulated underground steel pipe. Owners and operators need to review their operating, maintenance, and integrity management activities to ensure that CUI is adequately addressed and to ensure the safety of the public and operating personnel and to protect the environment.

For a copy of ADB-2016-04 with the full list of recommendations and action items, contact Jessica Foley.

Revised NPMS Data Proposal

[DOCKET NO. PHMSA-2014-0092]

On June 22, 2016, PHMSA proposed to make revisions to the National Pipeline Mapping System (NPMS), to incorporate new and / or revised data concerning gas distribution, gas transmission, and liquid transmission pipeline systems (81 CFR 40757). This proposal modifies PHMSA’s previous proposal on August 27, 2015 (79 FR 44246). It contains a staged approach to the data requirements, with some elements required in the first year after enactment, others in the second year, and the increased positional accuracy by 2024 (if not before). It also describes 3 different security levels for the various data elements, from Sensitive Security Information (contained in an SSI compliant environment with only need-to-know access), PIMMA (password protected, mostly for government officials), and Public (available through the NPMS website).

Written comments on this information collection should be submitted by July 22, 2016 (Docket No. PHMSA-2014-0092) to OMB, Attention: Desk Officer for PHMSA, 725 17th Street NW., Washington, DC 20503.

For a copy of PHMSA’s NPMS Data Proposal, contact Jessica Foley.

Inflation-Adjusted Penalties

PHMSA is publishing an Interim Final Rule to revise references in its regulations to the maximum civil penalties for violations of the Federal Pipeline Safety Laws, or any PHMSA regulation or order issued thereunder, to account for changes in inflation. These adjusted penalties will apply to violations occurring on or after the effective date of August 1, 2016. This only applies to penalties prospectively and does not retrospectively change any civil penalties previously assessed or enforced. The revised penalties are shown as follows:

Starting in January 2017, PHMSA is required to publish in the Federal Register annual inflation adjustments for each penalty levied under 49 U.S.C. 60101, et seq., and do so no later than January 15 of each year.

Request for Comments – Gaseous CO2 Pipeline Regulations

[DOCKET NO. PHMSA-2016-0049]

PHMSA is seeking public comment on a PHMSA-authored report titled: “Background for Regulating the Transportation of Carbon Dioxide in a Gaseous State,” which is available in the docket at PHMSA-2016-0049. The report evaluates existing and potential future gaseous carbon dioxide (CO2) pipelines and outlines PHMSA’s approach for establishing minimum pipeline safety standards for the transportation of carbon dioxide in a gaseous state to fulfill the requirements of section 15 of the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011 (the Act). The Act requires the Secretary of Transportation to “prescribe minimum safety standards for the transportation of carbon dioxide by pipeline in a gaseous state.” Note: PHMSA already regulates pipelines which carry super-critical (i.e. high pressure) CO2 in 49 CFR 195.

PHMSA is seeking to better understand the possible effects of the regulatory scenarios presented within the report, as well as the locations and extent of gaseous carbon dioxide pipelines, and is requesting feedback on the validity and applicability of these effects and the location and extent of these pipelines. As PHMSA does not currently regulate these pipelines, its ability to reach out and locate operators of gaseous carbon dioxide pipelines has been limited and it is unclear if PHMSA’s current information is comprehensive.

Submit comments identified by the Docket ID PHMSA-2016-0049 via the E-Gov website. The public comment period for this notice ends July 27, 2016. For a copy of the notice from the Federal Register, contact Jessica Foley.

PHMSA Public Awareness Workshop

JULY 13, 2016 (CHICAGO, IL)

PHMSA is sponsoring a one-day Public Awareness workshop in Chicago, IL on July 13th at the Hyatt Chicago – Magnificent Mile; 633 N. St Clair St; Chicago, IL 60611. The workshop will bring pipeline safety stakeholders together to review the findings from the joint Public Awareness Program Working Group’s (PAPWG) Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) Report and explore future actions that can be taken to expand public awareness and stakeholder engagement efforts. Various stakeholders, including Federal and state regulators, industry, pipeline operators, public, emergency response officials, local public officials, land planners, and excavators, will engage and discuss ways to strengthen pipeline safety public awareness. Members of the public may attend this free workshop. To help assure that adequate space is provided, all attendees, both in person and by webcast, should register in advance for the workshop. The workshop will be webcast live and recorded for pipeline safety stakeholders who are unable to travel to the workshop. Additional information can be found on the PHMSA meeting webpage.

California Requirements for Underground Gas Storage Projects


The California Department of Conservation (DOC) has released pre-rulemaking draft regulations (Discussion Draft) for the purpose of receiving public input on the development of updates to the regulations governing the DOC’s Gas Storage Program.

On January 6, 2016, Governor Jerry Brown issued a proclamation of a state of emergency relating to the gas storage leak in Aliso Canyon. The proclamation required the DOC to promulgate emergency regulations to address safety and reliability measures. The DOC promulgated emergency regulations that became effective on February 5, 2016. The DOC is now working to expand on the requirements in the emergency regulations as part of a formal rulemaking for permanent regulations.

The DOC is providing a Discussion Draft of the proposed regulations in order to receive public comment. Submit written comments to the proposed regulatory action to the Department of Conservation by Monday, August 22, 2016 at 5:00 p.m. Comments may be submitted by email to or by FAX to (916) 324-0948. Please indicate the subject line: “Discussion Draft Underground Gas Storage Regulations.”

For a copy of the Discussion Draft, contact Jessica Foley. More information can be found on the Underground Gas Storage page.

California Public Workshops on Draft Regulations for Gas Storage


The State of California is holding two public workshops on August 9 and 11 to provide information and answer questions from the public on the Discussion Draft, “Requirements for California Underground Gas Storage Projects.” The public workshops are scheduled for the following dates and locations:

August 9, 2016 from 1:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Natural Resources Building, Auditorium
1416 Ninth Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

August 11, 2016 from 1:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Hilton Woodland Hills, Trillium Room
6360 Canoga Ave.
Woodland Hills, CA 91367

For further information please visit the State of California, Department of Conservation Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources home page or click here for a link to the public notice.

Michigan Proposes Regulatory Changes for Underground Facility Damage Prevention

Michigan has proposed regulatory additions to the Michigan Public Service Commission of a portion of its state code titled R 460.11 to .40 – Underground Facility Damage Prevention and Safety. These new sections provide definitions, listings of excavator and operator duties, complaint procedures and Commission enforcement authority relating to Act 174 of 2013 – MISS DIG Underground Facility Damage Prevention and Safety Act. The Michigan Public Service Commission has already enacted a complaint process according to Act 174, effective April 1, 2016, available via their website:

Pipeline Pressure Testing Workshop: August 16-17, 2016

RCP is now offering a 2-day Pipeline Pressure Testing Workshop at its facilities in downtown Houston. The workshop will begin by outlining the objectives for performing a pressure test and how those relate to DOT requirements. The workshop will then build upon these foundations to answer many specific pressure testing questions including:

  • What are the different types of tests commonly conducted and how do you design each one?
  • What is the theory and physical science behind a pressure test?
  • How do you plan for a pressure test from start to finish:
    • Cleaning the line
    • Environmental hazards and permitting
    • Landowner and operations safety
    • Customer/stakeholder impact
    • Logistical details and scheduling
    • Pipeline modifications and anticipating failures
  • What is the required instrumentation and how does it need to be configured?
  • What data is absolutely necessary to validate a pressure test?
  • How do you determine and prove a successful pressure test?
  • What does a good test report look like (that will also satisfy PHMSA)?

Each attendee will receive the presentation as well as applicable handouts in a hardcopy notebook. Attendees will also have the opportunity to work through several exercises specifically covering 1) calculating the SMYS, MAOP and test pressures for various pipeline segments at various elevations 2) calculating the volume of water required for a hydrotest, fill times and velocities, and determining how the volume of test water changes with pressure and 3) designing a complete test plan for a hypothetical pipeline i.e. dividing the line into test sections and determining the test parameters for each section.

To register for our workshop, click here.

Pressure Testing Webinar – Advantages of Using TestOp®

RCP will be hosting webinar presentations to discuss pipeline pressure testing practices and demonstrate the advantages of utilizing new technology for planning, designing, and capturing real-time data to validate and document whether it was a successful test. The same technology that RCP has used for the past six years to validate our customer’s pressure tests has been greatly enhanced and is now being made available as a web-hosted solution for operators to use themselves.

TestOp® takes the confusion out of pressure testing by providing real-time determination of whether the test segment is experiencing potential issues, such as yielding or air entrapment volume absorption, all while modeling the mass balance relationship of pressures, volumes and temperatures of the test. TestOp® will provide real-time indicators and corresponding data to confirm whether the test is successfully performing to plan or if there might be a small pin-hole leak that would otherwise go undetected before taking the line segment off test. TestOp® generates comprehensive and consistent reports, including a certification letter, pressure test plan versus actual test results, pressure/spike test log, test instrument and pump calibrations, pipe volume calculations sheet, stress/strain and pressure/volume plots as well as upload capability for pictures and other document scans associated with the test.

We encourage any liquid or gas pipeline operator who has upcoming projects that involve replacement, integrity verification, new construction, uprates, conversions and/or reversals to sign up for the 45 minute webinar. Some of the largest and most respected pipeline operators are now using TestOp® because they see the value it brings to their overall pipeline integrity assurance program and we are confident you will too once you have seen it in person.

Mark your calendar and plan to attend one of these sessions or request an individual demonstration for your company at a date convenient to you.

Summer Conference Schedule

Have you registered and confirmed your reservations for these upcoming conferences? RCP will be attending. We hope to see you there!

SGA Operating Conference & Exhibits
July 25-27, 2016
George R. Brown Convention Center – Houston, TX

Mark your calendar and plan to attend the 2016 “Mega Rule” Notice of Proposed Rule Overview session on Monday, July 25th, from 4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. RCP’s Vice President, Chris Foley, will be the presenter. It’s a session that is sure to generate a lot of discussion. RCP staff will also be onsite at Booth #101 with innovated solutions to assist with all your compliance needs.

LGA 2016 Pipeline Safety Conference
August 8-12, 2016
Astor Crowne Plaza Hotel – New Orleans, LA

RCP is once again a proud sponsor and exhibitor at this year’s conference, which has been referred to as the “Premier Pipeline Safety Conference.” We are excited to see you at this new venue in New Orleans. Laissez les bons temps rouler! (Let the good times roll!)

2016 RRC Pipeline Safety Conference
August 24-26, 2016
Embassy Suites Riverwalk Hotel – San Antonio, TX

We would welcome the opportunity to discuss our services with you. 

Best regards, 

Bill Byrd signature
W. R. (Bill) Byrd, PE
RCP Inc.